The coming-out revolution continues. Just in the last few weeks, former Cosby kid Raven-Symoné, WWE wrestler Darren Young and X-Men Origins: Wolverine teen star Troye Sivan each proclaimed his or her sexual identity to the world.
What's becoming more interesting is how nonchalant and casual most of these celebrity coming-out announcements have become. Raven-Symoné just happened to mention it on Twitter in reference to the Supreme Court rulings, while Darren Young made it seem like no big deal while talking to a TMZ reporter at the airport. And the young Wolverine seemed to be the most thoughtful about how and when he would announce it to the world on YouTube.
Coming out is a very personal decision, and it's not an easy decision to make. Ask any of the homeless LGBT youth who are out on the streets. Most did not have a positive experience after telling their families that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
As a youth advocate at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, it's great to hear the positive celebrity coming-out stories about accepting fans and families. But I also know that the reality is that many teenagers who come out of the closet may end up on the streets.
These teens end up getting kicked out of their homes, so they stop attending school, and it just goes downhill from there.
In Los Angeles, 40 percent of the youth living on our streets are LGBT!
I strongly believe that it's our responsibility as a community to make our LGBT youth a priority. Not only do we need to help them find their identity, but we need to give them safe spaces, tools and resources to ensure that they know that they will survive and thrive once they are out.
The center's youth services offer a welcoming place for LGBT youth, from offering them a safe place to live in our Transitional Living Program to providing them a hot meal, a warm shower and help getting their GED at our Youth Center on Highland.
Beyond safe places, our goal is help mentor LGBT youth and give them a sense of self-empowerment. And the LGBT youth we serve do in fact want to create better futures for themselves. We see it every day.
More than 10 LGBT youth from the center's Transitional Living Program and Youth Center on Highland are currently training for their first-ever 5K run next month at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Beach Classic event. They wanted to champion their own cause by raising money to help others who may end up in their situation in the future.
My hope is that they educate others about the needs and struggles of LGBT youth and inspire our community to make their issues a priority. We helped them open the closet door, so we now owe it to them to lead the way through it.